E3 is upon us once again and like millions of gamers around the world, TB and I are ready for the hype! It’s going to be an interesting year with every company bringing at least one interesting title to the table and even some newcomers like Devolver Digital taking the big stage.
First off, though, we have EA. Usually a pretty known quantity, EA had a couple of great surprises on offer today. Let’s look at how they did:
Sports Titles – Madden 18: August 25th; FIFA 18: No Release Date
Yeah, I’m just lumping all of these together because, let’s be honest, we’ve seen this a million times from EA before. They spend an eternity talking about the new Madden, new FIFA, new whatever, and this year was, if anything, worse than ever before. Well over an hour is devoted to these games but hey, at least it gave me time to do first write-ups!
One thing that was interesting was that instead of focusing on the new dribbling tech or new realistic tackles, EA instead showed off Madden and FIFA 18 by going extremely in-depth into their respective story modes: Longshot and The Journey. I haven’t seen sales numbers or anything but I can only assume that their introduction of high budget stories into their games must be paying off. I admit, as a non-sportsball fan myself, it does make me more interested in picking up Madden than hearing them talk about how field goal kicks are now the most realistic things EVAAAAA! Oh and Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali himself is going to be acting in Madden 18. That was… surprising?
They also pushed their EA tournaments that they introduced last year and went really hard into the idea that anyone could be the next EA Sports professional. I didn’t follow that stuff at all last year so I can’t really say if this is exciting to folks or not. If you did like their eSports scene, congratulations! You’ll get more this year!
Anthem – No Release Date
Bioware’s new IP finally has a name: Anthem. While it won’t get its full reveal until tomorrow during the Xbox Presser, we did learn a few details about it. It appears to be a post-apocalyptic title about a civilization protected by giant walls and an overgrown world outside filled with monsters. It also appears to have a female lead (or at least a female narrator) and people wearing Fallout-esque Power Armor. Honestly, it’s hard to tell much else but we’ll learn more tomorrow and hopefully get to see some gameplay.
I’m just happy that Bioware is working on a new IP. As much as I love Mass Effect, I agree with their decision to put it to bed and work on something new. The post-apocalyptic setting doesn’t feel original to me but maybe they’ll have found their own unique niche that will be revealed later.
A Way Out – Early 2018
This has to be the most exciting game revealed during EA’s conference although it may seem like an odd choice to some players. For me, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was one of the best games of the last decade. It had a completely revolutionary control system forcing one player to move two players at once and told a fantastic story using no words at all.
Pretty sure nobody expected their next title to be a prison escape story a la Shawshank Redemption or Kane and Lynch. Still, the more I think about it, the more awesome it sounds. It’s a game that forces you to play co-op, preferably local co-op. The game will always be in split-screen and will have both players working together to escape from prison and play through the stories of the characters.
This game seems 100% perfect for a Last Boss Gaming series and TB and I are already prepped and ready for this incredibly stylish newcomer.
Need for Speed: Payback – November 10th
Need for Speed is making a comeback and apparently, the dev team has been watching a LOT of Fast and the Furious movies. Frankly, though, in a world with Forza, Gran Turismo, DIRT, even The Crew and so many other staple racing series, this seems like the best path for Need for Speed to travel down.
Still, the game looked far from perfect. The cinematic crashes looked cool at first but after 7 or 8 in just a 10 minute gameplay demo, I’m already over it. If that is something the game forces on you through the whole thing, I’m gonna put my controller down before the first level is done. The amount they hyped the open-world approach also has me concerned. This is something plenty of games have already done extremely well so that alone isn’t going to cut it.
With some polish and work though, giving some over-the-top F&F style missions to Need for Speed sounds like it may finally be the comeback the series has needed for so many years.
Star Wars: Battlefront II – Fall 2017
I have been very vocal about my distaste for how EA has treated the Star Wars: Battlefront franchise. For years, all I wanted was a Battlefront 3 and when EA finally made a reboot, it had absolutely nothing that made the original franchise so good. They took the goofy Star Wars-themed shooting sandbox and tried to turn it into an eSports ready competitive Battlefield clone. I have never been more disappointed.
They still have a lot to prove with Battlefront II but it looks miles better than the first so far. Gameplay resembles the original games very closely with twitch-based shooting and dodge rolls making a comeback. Some things I still need to know are the amount of maps that will be made available and I need vehicles to exist in each map, not via an idiotic card system. Finally, I want to be able to just goof around with friends rather than have to participate in some ultra-competitive online match with hundreds of people. Co-op modes and PvE stuff will help a ton towards making this the Battlefront 3 I always wanted.
I’m far from sold on EA’s Battlefront but I have more hope for the franchise now than I did before the conference. At the very least, they seem to be moving in the right direction.
Battlefield 1: In the Name of the Tsar
Competitive online shooters aren’t really my scene but I get the appeal and Battlefield 1’s DLC, In the Name of the Tsar, looks gorgeous. It doesn’t look like it changes much other than trying to prevent early game cheese tactics by automatically giving teams points they should start with. This also helps folks avoid the first minute of just running towards the enemy which seems like a good change to make. Otherwise, I doubt it’s going to change the game all that much other than adding some new maps for people to rage on.
EA’s PLAY-style of press conference is interesting and allows for a very deep dive into some of their new games. Unfortunately, this year felt like they squandered that time on games that everyone already knows about. FIFA 18, Madden 18 and Battlefield 1 each got at least 30 minutes of time devoted to them and didn’t really say anything new that folks couldn’t have guessed on their own. The look into Star Wars Battlefront 2, on the other hand, was appreciated and getting to see a full mission of Need for Speed: Payback also gave us more information than other companies may have shown so the style obviously has potential. Both games are far from guaranteed classics but EA seems confident in both titles which is a good sign.
Other than Anthem, every game did show gameplay which is always important for E3. So often, we get hyped up on cinematic trailers that wind up never being released. Seeing gameplay gives us far more confidence these games will actually be made and that is important.
Ultimately, A Way Out was the highlight of the presser for me. A new AAA game by the creators of Brothers that focuses on couch co-op is something pretty much nobody could have seen coming and it excites me to no end. Hopefully, Anthem will also prove to be something special but judging by the lack of any release information or gameplay, we’ll likely have a while left to wait.
Overall Grade: B-